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The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

How to Talk with Your Roommate


As I approach my fourth year here at NJIT, I’ve experienced living with a pretty wide spectrum of roommates. I’ve had quiet roommates that I hardly see, though I hold no ill will towards them. I’ve had friendly roommates that I still sometimes wave to on the way to class. I’ve even had the classic ‘roommate that basically doesn’t exist because they’re gone half the year’ experience.  

Aside from these roommates, there were a few bad experiences, though, and a part of me does feel responsible for the terrible mental state that I was in during those few months. That’s not because I caused those people to act poorly — my mental state refers to how I approached and treated my roommates when airing out my grievances.  

This piece is less of a guide on how to solve your roommate issues, and more of a suggestion on how to establish a good roommate relationship. Hopefully, the few pieces of advice I offer you will save you from major headaches later on. 

Establish Communication 

Whether it be through text, Discord, Instagram, or another platform. Get that line of communication set up as soon as possible. I’ve found that having a way to contact each other if you’re not in the same room is a great option to have in your back pocket.  

For example, if you need the room alone to get some work done or need to ask for their opinion on something, it would be a lot easier to send a simple text. You don’t have to automatically speak like friends, but at least try to make your voice known. 

Set Up Responsibilities and Write. Them. Down. 

Your room is a shared space, so you and your roommate share responsibility for it, whether you like it or not. Have that talk with them and try to set up an agreement about who is responsible for what chores. A simple “I’ll take the garbage out on Friday every week, and you vacuum the floors every Saturday” can prevent a lot of unnecessary arguing. 

Make sure to write down your responsibilities and hang it up somewhere where you both will notice the list and remember. I’ve had too many arrangements that have broken down simply because we both forgot who was responsible for what.  

Don’t Take Criticism to Heart 

When people point out my flaws to my face, I tend to clam up or even get defensive at times. It’s a normal reaction, and a similar interaction will inevitably happen between you and your roommate. How you respond after receiving criticism, in my opinion, is what will tilt the scales toward a good relationship with your roommate.  

If your roommate complains about the room smelling like something you’ve gone nose-blind to, try to spray some air freshener or clean up the area. If a roommate finds a piece of your clothing on their side of the room, try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  

If you channel your negative emotions into actually improving your habits, you indicate to your roommate that you are willing to be a considerate individual. Simple actions like this can do wonders for your relationship with your roommates. 

Don’t Be Afraid Of Confrontation 

If you’re going to take anything away from this piece, I’d hope it’ll be to be unafraid of confronting your roommate when necessary. Too many times I have not addressed small grievances that I’ve had with my roommates, only to have those emotions blow up at some other time. That’s never a good thing, and I believe that talking about it before it gets to that point is the healthiest path forward.  

Obviously, you should be mindful that your requests are respectful and reasonable, but you are also responsible for your own comfort. If something your roommate is doing is disturbing you, then you have the right to make it known. Don’t dismiss your problems for the sake of convenience, as they usually come back to bite you later. 

If you follow these small nuggets of advice, you’ll be able to effectively extend that first olive branch across the room. What if your roommate doesn’t respond? Well, if you’re in a campus dorm, we have resident assistants for a reason! 

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Aaron Dimaya, Staff Writer
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